It may have caught some people off guard when they found out that a new state law prevents minors from playing bingo.  The law went into effect on July 9th as part of the state's 2017-18 budget.  The state gaming commission sure makes it sound like something wonderful, calling it modernizing state laws related to charitable gaming across the state "making regulation easier and assist charitable organizations in increasing revenue for their worthy causes."

One thing the new state gaming laws does permit is an increase in the maximum single prize for bingo from $1000 to $5000.  But calling it consistent with other forms of gambling in the state, the minimum age to play bingo is now 18.  Minors under the age of 18 are permitted to attend, but are not allowed to play.  It also means children who often volunteer to work in bingo halls by delivering food and drinks to the players are no longer able to do that.

Some churches, fire halls and other social clubs depend on bingo to make ends meet.  Some places have bingo sessions more than once a week and for many families it's always been a tradition to play bingo.  Those days have ended with the new law.

Is bingo really gambling?  I think it's a long, long stretch to consider it that.  How does it differ from carnival games?  Is it different because carnival games are considered games of skill?  Is "I Got It" a game of skill?  Of course not.  "I Got It" doesn't seem to be any different from bingo so why does the new law not pertain to "I Got It"?

Some of the fondest memories I have of my grandmother is attending bingo with her.  While she played six or more cards I would concentrate on my one bingo card.  Can't be too hard to figure out can it?  Well how about when you get four corners and don't realize that's a winning bingo card?  It happened to me and by the time my grandmother noticed it was too late.  Another number had been called and I had to share the prize with five other players.

That's the point.  By taking away the privilege of playing, state lawmakers are denying kids the chance to learn the game and become fans of the game.  And at the same time they're likely killing off the game by not attracting young players.

For some churches in the Buffalo area bingo generates as much as $50,000 a year.  Inevitably it'll mean all those venues that host bingo in order to survive will have to find another way to raise money.

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